(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
Anthony was born in around 1868 in Ballyhaunis in County Mayo, Ireland. We don't know anything about his early life or family. He was a Roman Catholic.
By December 1891 Anthony was living in England and working as a labourer. He was also a member of the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia, so Anthony kept his civilian home and job, and trained as a soldier for a short period every year.
We don't know how long Anthony spent in the Militia, but it was clearly long enough to attract him to Army life. On the 19th December he joined the Manchester Regiment at their Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire as a Regular soldier.
When he enlisted Anthony was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 138 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He had varicose veins in the 'back of both thighs and hands'. He told the Army he had no next of kin. Anthony was given the service number 3488 and began his training at the Depot.
After he finished his training Anthony joined the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 4th April 1892. They were based in Limerick, Ireland at this time. He spent less than 6 months with them before setting sail for India and the 2nd Battalion. They were at Dinapore (now Danapur) in eastern India. This was to be Anthony's home for his entire time in India.
Anthony began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay on the 9th February 1894. This was increased to 2d per day on the 19th December 1897. He received another pay rise on the 1st September 1898 when he elected to 'come under the terms of Army Order Number 65 of 1898'. This ended the practice of deducting 2d per day from Anthony's pay to cover the cost of his food, but meant he would not receive the money back in a lump sum when he left the Army.
The 2nd Battalion left India in November 1897. They moved to Aden, now in Yemen, but Anthony continued back to the UK. He had originally enlisted for 7 years in the Regular Army, and that time was almost at an end. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on the 19th December 1898.
Anthony had to spend the next 5 years as a Reservist. He was free to find a home and a job, but he could be called back to the Army in an emergency. We don't know where he lived or what he did.
Tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa rose during 1899, and by the beginning of October war was seen as inevitable by both sides. This could be why Anthony rejoined the Regular Army on the 6th October. The Boer War began 5 days later.
The war did not start well for the British and by the end of the year the Army was sending as many soldiers as it could to the country. Anthony had rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, and we believe he was a member of E Company when he set sail for South Africa with the battalion on the 15th March 1900.
After they arrived the 2nd Battalion took part in fighting to the west of Harrismith during July 1900, which qualified Anthony and his comrades for the 'Wittebergen' clasp.
Having more soldiers available meant that the British Army could try to force the Boers to face it in battle. By the end of 1900 they had captured most Boer towns, but they did not surrender and began to fight as guerrillas in small units, so Anthony stayed in South Africa. He spent the rest of the war manning blockhouses and taking part in patrols of the countryside aimed at restricting the movements of the Boer forces. This was eventually successful and the war ended on the 31st May 1902.
The 2nd Battalion returned to the UK in September 1902 and were stationed in Aldershot, Hampshire for the next 2 years. Whilst he was there Anthony extended his service on the 18th December 1903. He was willing to stay in the Army for a total of 21 years.
In 1904 the Battalion moved to the Channel Islands and was split between Guernsey and Alderney. Anthony's Good Conduct Pay was increased to 3d per day on the 1st April 1904. After 3 years he moved to Portsmouth in Hampshire. The Battalion moved again in 1909, to Mullingar in County Westmeath, Ireland.
Anthony's time with the 2nd Battalion came to an end on the 6th November 1909. He was transferred to the Regimental Depot in Ashton and served there for 2 years. On the 28th November 1911 he was discharged 'having been found medically unfit for further service'. His complexion was described as 'florid'.
Anthony had been awarded 4 Good Conduct Badges and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. This recognised 18 years in the Army. He received it in July 1911, along with a gratuity of £5. His conduct had been 'Exemplary'. Anthony told the Army he was going to live at British Fleet on Devonshire Street in Hulme, Manchester. We don't know what this was, or whether Anthony ever did live there.
There is a note against Anthony's name on the Queen's South Africa Medal Roll stating 'died 7/13 in workhouse'. This is all we know about Anthony's life after his discharge. An Anthony Lynch did die in Dublin, Ireland between July and September 1913 at the age of 42.
Anthony's medals were kept by the regiment until 1959, when they were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.